St. Agur; Roasted Shallot Tart; Strawberry Clafoutis

roasted shallot tart with balsamic, thyme & parmesan

My friends sometimes ask how I have time to cater and do all the cooking during the week. I have to make time to cook. In between my day job, Korean language class, a few hours work at the restaurant, meals for myself and of course blogging. I just try to be somewhat organized and efficient in this city of traffic. I write a new schedule of things to do for the week almost everyday. What can I say, I've always been a list maker!

my smothered strawberry clafoutis

I shop in the earlier part of the week splitting the shopping up two days if necessary and armed with a grocery list organized by stores. I prep on Wednesday and Thursday I get down to business. Getting down to business with only an hour and a half window from the moment I get home to delivery requires a detailed list of things to do in order.

For this week I only had an hour window and the Thursday things-to-do list was:
-get home by 5
-preheat oven
-roll out puff pastry then chill on baking sheet in fridge
-make clafoutis batter, sans egg whites
-line the bottom of a lightly greased baking pan with strawberries
-mix sliced roasted shallots with parmesan, cream, thyme, salt and pepper
-take puff pastry out of fridge and fill the center with shallot mixture, top with parmesan, egg wash, then into the oven for 30 minutes
-beat egg white then carefully mix into batter, pour over strawberries, then bake clafoutis for 20 minutes
-leave house by 6pm
-stop by Silverlake Cheese Store then deliver

Then finished! The tart smelled wonderful with the sweet shallots, buttery crust, and the warmth of the balsamic vinegar. Ready made puff pastry is really a godsend.

If I could wake up to the smell of freshly baking clafoutis every morning I don't think I'll have any trouble getting up. I used the Chez Panisse Cafe recipe for the clafoutis batter (I love this book!). I noticed that this differed from other recipes because it instructed to separate the eggs then beat the whites to soft peaks. This gave volume to the batter and an air of softness to the top. Genius! The clafoutis looked so much prettier than the one I made earlier in the week.

And St. Agur (triple-creme blue, cow, Auvergne, France), one of my favorite cheeses, is divine. There are so many good cheese I haven't discovered yet but I am always excited to share one that I am ecstatic. I am always in awe of the people who really care to make a great cheese. I can't live without cheese!

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com

Added note: I forgot to mention what a clafoutis was. Larousse Gastronomique states that it is "dessert from the Limousin region of France, consisting of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a fairly thick batter". So basically a fruit with a custardy batter poured over it then baked. This definition says "thick batter" but the Chez Panisse batter was light due to the beating of the whites. "The word [clafoutis] comes from the provincial dialect word clafir", which means to fill.

Cooking With Spring Vegetables


I'm trying to catapult myself into seasonal cooking and becoming more aware of local ingredients at their peak. This is not so hard as long as I am able to get up early on Saturdays. Which I guess is not always so easy considering I've cursed getting up in the early hours, 6 to be exact, to goto work pretty much everyday.

I find myself going out less and less on Fridays in order to make it to the farmer's market in a timely manner. But that's okay, since I am a creature of more casual habits and find getting ready for a nighttime excursion more of a hassle than something that will uplift me from the drudgeries of the work week.

My overzealousness in the presence of beautiful vegetables the past weekend resulted in a big basket of goodies from the Santa Monica farmer's market:

*ruby and gold carrots
*green garlic
*spring onion (above)
*baby broccoli
*english peas
*fingerling potatoes

But I was successful in using all the ingredients and did not waste one bit. Yay! :) Here is what I made for the week...

*Roasted Ruby and Gold Carrots*
Served with a Baguette, Comte & St. Agur
These carrots were so sweet and carmelized from the roasting and retained a great texture to their body without getting too soft. St. Agur is a triple-creme, cow's milk blue cheese from Auvergne, France. So frickin good, a must try.

*Vulcan Lettuce with Spring Onion & Dijon; Skirt Steak with Green Garlic-St. Agur Sauce*
What a beautiful lettuce isn't it? I'm always in awe of a beautiful leafy vegetable. I got this one from Coleman Farms who always seem to have their tables filled with healthy beautiful greens. I made a simple salad sprinkling the vulcan lettuce with spring onion slices and drizzling it a dressing made with dijon, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. I definitely need practice making vinaigrettes. I'm just not hitting that perfect proportion of acid to oil yet.

I got two pieces of skirt steak from Whole Foods which I seasoned with black pepper, salt and thyme. I cooked this in a pan with a little bit of olive oil then covered them with foil to keep warm while I made the sauce. I sweated some green garlic and shallots in olive oil then added some veal demi-glace and some red wine. I reduced this a little bit then finished it a knob of butter and few chunks of St. Agur.

The skirt steak didn't look as good as the ones grilled at AOC which is sauced with an "aged balsamic aioli", which I have no idea how to make. But the green garlic-St. Agur sauce was an excellent sauce so no complaints here. And it was good for smothering little roasted potatoes that I also made on the side.

*Suzanne Goin's Steamed Fingerling Potatoes with Creme Fraiche*
Served with St. Agur & The Fine Cheese Co's Charcoal Crackers
I found this recipe on Oprah's website (and no I wasn't on O's website!). The recipe came up on google while I was searching for "steamed fingerlings". This dish is one of the best potato dishes I've had to date. Just steam some fingerlings, mash half, add butter, creme fraiche, chives, salt and pepper, and mix everything together gently. I think I used French fingerlings - red skin, yellow flesh. Some varieties of fingerlings are better for steaming so make sure you research that.

Actually, this is one of my favorite meals lately. With a side of charcoal crackers and St. Agur, it's hard to go wrong with this steamed fingerling potato dish. Now only if I had a glass of wine to go with it my 30 minutes work lunch would have been spectacular.

*Baby Broccoli with Green Garlic & Soy*
Served with Brown Rice & Miyuk Gook (Korean Nori Soup)
Originally I had planned to employ the baby broccoli in a simple penne dish but instead swerved to a more asian palate. I sauteed green garlic in vegetable oil, then added blanched baby broccoli (30 seconds or so), soy sauce, a dash of Vietnamese fish sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil. At the end I threw in some leftover spring onion slices.

*English Peas with Green Garlic & Creme Fraiche*
Served with Salmon with Saffron Butter
Last but not least, I finally made my English peas. One of the cooks at AOC was telling me about how English peas are cooked there so I adapted that according to my short-term memory. I sweated some green garlic in olive oil and butter then added the peas. Then I added a little bit of water (a little bit too much I think) then continued to cook them with the cover on. Finished it with a little bit of creme fraiche. The peas came out a tiny bit overcooked since I was trying to evaporate out the too much water I stupidly added to the pan. But since they were so fresh and tasted so good start off with, it didn't become a disaster.


I got two small pieces of Salmon from Mitsuwa market and sliced then into thirds on a bias for some quick cooking. I topped the peas with the salmon then added a small spoonful of saffron butter, made with saffron bashed into powder and mixed with butter. I think I was supposed to added a little bit of water to the saffron powder so that the color would infuse the butter. Oops. The peas and salmon made for a nice light dinner. I can't wait to get more peas and do right by them the next time around.

I'm keeping my eyes out for zucchini blossoms and hopefully more spring onion and green garlic!




Beer, chicken. Beer, chicken. Can't go wrong with that sequence, can you. After being stumped at month-long-gone Kani Mura back in early March, we quickly skittered across the street to Kokkekoko for late-night nibbling of yakitori. The center-stage grill, surrounding wooden bar, and rustic but quaint wooden furniture set the mood for some casual dining, Kirin pitcher guzzling, and fun weekend bantering.

With the "five skewers minimum per person" law printed on a piece of letter-sized paper and then taped up in one barely visible corner like an afterthought, the six minds present brainstormed and filled up the order.

These chicken thighs were perfectly charred in all the right spots and were so moist.

Our table got a mix of chicken hearts and "special" chicken hearts only because they were out of the former. The special ones were smaller and indeed were better. I liked the carmelization of the spiraling edges for the gentlest sensation of crunchiness.


This was my favorite of the evening. The spicy marinade gave the wings an extra kick. The fanning out of the meat allowed it to cook deliciously allowing more contact between the surfas area of the meat and the grill. Yumm.

I really enjoyed this Soboro Rice Bowl which is marinated ground chicken over rice topped with a quail egg. How can I not though? That sounds like a perfect comforting snack.

Look at that perfectly browned surface on the gyoza! Yumm.

I love the creaminess of quail eggs. And these are even on a stick for a fun time.

Other meats we got included breasts (ehh), regular wings, gizzards, and livers. I thought the gizzards were good and crunchy. Some of the others thought it was too crunchy but since I've never had it before I was fine with it. And of course I had no idea what gizzards were either. Aren't they the little things in the little plastic bag in cornish hens and other packaged chickens?

In fact a gizzard is "a modified muscular pouch behind the stomach in the alimentary canal of birds, having a thick lining and often containing ingested grit that aids in the breakdown of seeds before digestion" [Answers.com].

After collecting a good number of skewers in their designated cups and going through a few pitchers of kirin we were stuffed and satisfied. Kokkekoko is a fun casual time, something I'm always down for.

2nd & Central Ave
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles


Ribeye Steak Stir-fry & Scallion Salad


When I get home from work and I'm usually hungry and like to appease that asap. I didn't see too much in the fridge but did locate a raw ribeye steak, shredded scallion, and some basil. A stir-fry doesn't sound too bad. Except it wasn't really a full stir-fry because there was a tiny bit of unwelcomed steaming in the pan.

I thinly sliced the steak and sauteed it over high heat. Then added some fish sauce, black pepper, sliced red onion, basil, and a squeeze of lemon attempting an amateur stab at some Thai flavorings. I crowned the beef with a huge dollop of sambal, my favorite hot sauce.

Shredded scallion is available at Korean markets and it makes for a super easy salad. Just drizzle some sesame oil, a tiny bit of soy sauce, a good sprinkling of sesame seeds, a light touch of Korean red pepper flakes and you're done.

This was delicious, fast and homey with warm mixed grain rice. It was perfect for noshin in front of the tv.

Focaccia Roll with Turkey Pastrami, Kettle Chips & Tapatio


I put myself on some crazy ass budget because of a few very big expenses coming up. This basically meant no buying groceries, definitely no Surfas, and no buying kitchen stuff at TJ Maxx. Even shopping at Trader Joe's I stuck to a skeleton of a grocery list. I don't really like turkey but at $1.60 the packet of the turkey pastrami was the best deal. Seriously, $1.60! That't craziness.

I slapped that onto some focaccia roll, topped it with some roasted pepper relish, american cheese (that's all that was at home -- sigh), and a handful of Boy's spinach. But it was definitely missing something. I stuck in a pieces of Kettle Chip's Salt & Vinegar and dabbed good drops of Tapatio on each bite. Problem solved. It was really really good I tell ya.

Spring Vegetable Bagna Cauda; Parmigiano Reggiano with Saba


I wanted to kick off this spring with a fresh menu. I thought a Spring Vegetable Bagna Cauda would be a perfect way to do this. Bagna cauda is traditionally a winter dish from the Piedmont region of Italy serving a variety of vegetables and bread with a warm anchovy-garlic sauce.

For this spring version I served radish, asparagus, red thumb fingerlings, spring onion, baby carrots, and endive. I made the bagna cauda sauce according to the recipe in my Chez Panisse Cafe cookbook and it came out delicious. On the drive over to deliver the food my car was filled with the intoxicating scent of garlic, anchovies, butter and olive oil. Yumm.


As a simple but still high quailty sidekick I served parmigiano reggiano with saba. Parmigiano reggiano is a cow's milk hard cheese made in the Emiliana-Romagne region of Italy, deriving its name from the well known city of Parma also famous for their ham, prosciutto di Parma. I love the nuttiness, saltiness and the grainy texture of the salt crystals from this great cheese. Any other cheeses similar to parmigiano reggiano is referred to as parmesan. Although the quality is just not the same.

I served this delicious cheese with saba, which is a reduction of the must of the trebbiano grape. It's syrupy, rich and sweet, a perfect complement to the nutty sharp parmigiano. I tasted a little broken nub dipped in the saba and it was so good. Saba is super expensive though. My small bottle cost $30! I can actually see dollars flying away as I pour it out. Definitely worth it though. Sometimes you gotta pay up for the high quality goods.

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com


A Tasting of Chocolate & Caramel


I'm not much of a sweets person. I rarely buy, make or eat desserts. Instead craving for a plate of cheese or more savory bites to end the meal. But I've somehow gathered a small loot of sweets in my room. After a night of cooking and eating I still had some energy left and so presented a mini chocolate and caramel tasting.


The first chocolate (from the left) is Barcelona-based Chocovic's Unique Origin Ocumare bar. It contains 71% cocoa solids from the criollo variety of cocoa plant from Venezuela. The criollo variety is prized for its distinctive and complex flavors. A delicious dark chocolate. For more expertly details read Candy Blog's review.


I love Vosges chocolates! The flavors Katrina Markoff, the owner/chocolatier, comes up with is brilliant. The Woolloomooloo Bar, the latest flavor to hit my buds, contains roasted and salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds and dark milk chocolate. I always like some nuttiness in my chocolate but the hemp seeds and coconut also provided an additional layer of interesting texture. I'm partial to dark chocolate but I'm loving on the nice balance in dark milk chocolate.


The Barcelona Bar is my favorite from the Vosges chocolate bar collection. It has hickory smoked almonds, fleur de sel gray sea salt and dark milk chocolate. It sounds amazing and it tastes amazing. The combination of the smoked nutty almonds, the mellow saltiness and the perfectly balanced dark milk chocolate is pretty mindblowing. I'll retaste a small square of this tonight just to make sure I'm right about the level of its mindblowingness.

Kudos to Vosges for moving towards becoming a greener company by using organic ingredients, less wasteful packaging, recycled paperboards, and reducing energy use and implementing a recycling program at the office!


Next up was Little Flower Candy Co's Sea Salt Caramels. Christine Moore, the candy maker, was a pastry chef working in Los Angeles who left her job to have her baby five years ago. Bored at home she began making candy and now her company sells to 13 stores! Her candies do not contain hydrogenated oils, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Yay! And this Sea Salt Caramel is my favorite. She also makes beautiful marshmallows that I have yet to try.


Finally we ended with Recchiuti's Fleur de Sel Caramels. Recchuiti Confections is an artisan company based in San Francisco. Their store is one of the pleasureable stops I made within the Ferry Building and yes this is the same box I got back in January! I was kind of hoarding them and then completely forgot about them. Not much of a looker as the chocolate covering over the caramel is broken on every little square but the tast is divine. The fleur de sel comes into play more as the caramel melts away. I try not to bite during the latter part of my consumption but sometimes it's hard. I crave crunching the delicious salt with the last bit of the caramel.

This was a nice sweets session with quality products using quality ingredients. But we needed something to balance all the sweet richness. We ended with some of Chasaengwon's Gamnong Green Tea.

"In the rainfall for seeding (late April), when the nature begins to give off fresh energy, this tea is made of fresh tea sprouts that are picked one by one with all heart. It has gentle taste, neat and clean color, and excellent aroma." Yummy.

Red Thumb Fingerlings with Anchovy Cream, Prosciutto & Chives


When I head down to the Saturday Santa Monica farmer's market I usually stop by the Weiser Farm table for some nice potatoes. I'm enamored by potato flesh with alternative hues, such as this Red Thumb variety. I decided to oven steam these with herbs and olive oil in a baking dish covered with foil. After the cooking time I left them in the oven to cool while I headed out for the evening.

When I got back home and opened up the foil what I found was not pretty. The pink hue to the flesh had gone muted into the neutral browns while bits of ugly herbs stuck to it. I tasted one and bitterness hit my taste buds. Yuck! I'm not sure what happened exactly. Cooking them at too high of a heat? Including parsley in the herb mixture? Leaving them in the oven to cool with the foil on?


Anyhow, I was determined to salvage these and quickly came up with a solution. I sauteed anchovies in butter until they dissipated then added cream to the mixture. The potatoes, after the brown herbs were scraped off, were added to the cream mixture and gently heated. I finished it some prosciutto crisps and chives and the ptoatoes were saved. At least this time.


Passover Dinner Menu


Marilyn hired me to do part of her and J's Passover dinner. I've never cooked any Jewish food before although I adore matzah ball soup and latkes, which are both pretty standard fares. Guidelines included no dairy and meat on one plate, kosher meats, and unleavened bread (matzah). Flavors guidelines included horseradish, sour cream, smoked fish, chickpeas, and peppers. I came up with:

where you going off to aioli?!"

*Baby Potato with Roasted Pepper Relish, Aioli & Horseradish*
I halved some white creamer potatoes (couldn't find any German butter potatoes which are super yummy), and roasted it with salt, pepper and olive oil. I charred and roasted a red pepper and a yellow pepper to make the relish which used red wine vinegar, garlic, olive oil, parsley, and capers. Topped the potato halves with the relish, then a dollop of the aioli, and a small pinch of the horseradish.

*Smoked Trout Matzah Canape with Herbed Creme Fraiche & Chives*
I used smoked trout for this canape instead of smoked salmon since salmon canapes are way more common. Marilyn emphasized how dry matzah is so I was pretty liberal with the creme fraiche. A little smear on the cracker to hold the trout and a good dollop on top and a sprinkle of chives for a simple smoked fish canape.

*Roasted Lemon-Thyme Chicken Breast*
Chicken breast was requested as the main course. Originally I wanted to use herbs de provence but instead went for a more simple combination of lemon and thyme in case flavors would clash. Unfortunately the kosher selection around town wasn't too great and I of course don't know any Jewish/kosher butcher shops. First I went to Culver City Trader Joe's which bone-in skin-on and boneless skinless chicken breasts. Where's the boneless skin-on!

So next stop was Whole Foods at Fairfax and 3rd whose meager selection of about eight packages was truly disgusting. I got grossed out just looking at them and could not allow myself to buy them. Next stop was the poultry butcher at Farmer's Market across the street. No kosher selection there. Next was a drive up Fairfax where I wished for a sign that said "Kosher Butcher Here!" to pop out at me. I'm sure there was something but none that I could locate quickly while keeping a normal driving speed. Then back to Trader Joe's except this time at La Brea and 3rd, which is pretty much the hell version of grocery shopping. There was so much animosity their parking lot. And it wasn't even from me.

Anyhow, so eventually I had to settle for the TJ bone-in skin-on 'cause there's no way I'm cooking skinless chicken breast. Bleh. Not only did the chicken breasts in each of the three packages vary in size (I tried to get the closest weight to each other from the small selection) but I also had to debone it myself, for the first time. Some came out smaller than other. :/

*Wild Mushroom Persillade with Hazelnut Oil*
As a side I made sauteed cremini, oyster, and king oyster mushroom with thyme and hazelnut oil. Then finished it off with persillade which is a mixture of garlic and parsley used to flavor dishes towards the end of its preparation. I also added some lemon zest and shallots for more flavor.

As I was doing research for this Passover dinner I came across a recipe for haroseth, a fruit and nut paste which is supposed to represent the mortar the Israelites used to cement bricks during their captivity in Egypt. The recipe called for dried apricots, date, figs, walnuts, and a few spices.

"There are as many recipes for charoset as there are Jewish families" says Answers.com. Indeed, because apparently I made a version of haroseth they've never had before and weren't expecting. Oopsie. On the other hand, I thought it at least tasted good. Perhaps with brie, warm crusty croissant and and a gentle drizzle of lavender honey it would be yummy too.

Marilyn and J worked on their part of the menu which included Matzah Ball Soup, Latkes and the Passover Sedar Plate. All this matzah talk is making me want to take a long overdue trip to Canter's.


Thai Patio in the Ghetto Strip Mall


I had to shop for some meat for my parent's anniversary dinner and also for little niknaks like power outlet cover craps. Since crappy KMart is in the same ghetto depressing strip mall as Whole Foods at Fairfax & 3rd, I went to that dirty disorganized place and wasted way too much time. KMart place is like a puzzle. A confusing puzzle that tries to make you buy a bunch of crap you don't need.

And likewise for convenience stopped by Thai Patio for lunch. But it wasn't ghetto. Nor disorganized. Actually it was rather pleasant and clean. It's located within the courtyard nestled between Whole Foods and the other strip mall stores. Daylight floods in from their all glass wall, which is perfect for blog pic shooting. :)
And while the view outside was still ghetto I liked the view inside with all the food passing by.


And holy crap was it cheap or what. Chicken Curry was only $3.99 as a lunch special! And the Pad-see-u not much more. Both were delicious and Boy proclaimed the curry a hundred times better than the one at Palms Thai. I would say that's exaggerating it a bit but then again I've usually skip on the panang at Palms and the one at Thai Patio was really good.

The pad-see-ew, one of my favorite Thai noodle dishes, was delicious with its thick tender rice noodles seasoned perfectly with soy sauce. It could have had more broccoli though, as you know I am a vegetable fiend. Total cost came out to less than $14 including two drinks and tip. This was quick, inexpensive and very delicious.

6332 W 3rd St


A Boy, Quesadilla, Beer, and Choco Bread Pudding


Who: Boy
Boy offered to make me dinner one weekday. Actually I told him to make me dinner. And made sure it was in the making on my drive over too. But hey, that's almost the same thing. I was hungry. :)

What: Quesadilla
Filled with Trader Joe's Mexican blend cheese and chipotle chicken sausage, this was mucho delicious. Never had beef with a spicy sausage nor a simple homemade quesadilla. But I could have skipped on the TJ papaya salsa thingy.


With: Russian River's Salvation
Russian River is one of Boy's favorite breweries, along with AleSmith. And looky what treat waited for us in the name of Salvation. It's their Belgian style strong dark ale. So frickin good. So far I've liked everything from this brewery and let me tell you, they gots a lot. Can't wait to visit it sometime. Salvation won a Silver Medal in 1999 at the World Beer Cup.


Me: Chocolate Bread Pudding
I may demand but I don't come empty handed. But of course I forgot the recipe as I left my place in search of a hot quesadilla. I had packed all the ingredients though. I figured bread pudding couldn't be that hard without a recipe. Afterall, it was just egg, milk, and sugar. I only used a little bit of sugar and sprinkled the chopped bittersweet chocolate on top of the soaking bread. Out it came from the oven piping hot and delicious, closing the meal with a bit of chocolatey sweetness.


Marilyn's Erotic Writing Pad Menu


Marilyn so kindly offered me a free seat for the single session erotic writing workshop while she slaved away in the kitchen making delectable plates for the students to enjoy.


She offered Baby Artichokes with Vanilla Jalapeno Aioli and Prosciutto & Fig Crostini with Goat Cheese. The aioli was so delicious with the tender baby choke leaves. The leaves were so tender that they were edible popped whole into the mouth without any flesh scraping.

Likewise, the crostini was delicious. I liked the combination of the salty ham, sweet dried fig, and tangy goat cheese. The recipe originally called for fresh fig but since they are still out of season I suggested dried fig which worked perfectly. Can't wait til fresh figs come out so I can try this recipe but with a quick roast to the fresh figs with a touch of balsamic vinegar.


And of course, one cannot skip out on dessert at an erotic writing class of all places - Molten Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Covered Strawberries.



Olympic Kalgooksoo - Comfort in a Bowl


Kalgooksoo is truly one of my favorite noodles dishes. It's a Korean dish made with thick handcut noodles, and the one above in particular is chicken flavored adorned with slices of scallion. Adding a dollop of the soy sauce mixture and the pepper flake paste seasons and warms up the soup and makes it perfect to eat with the traditional accompaniment of gut-jeo-rih (marinated cabbage, different from regular kimchi which is fully fermented).

The best place to get this delectable comforting noodle dish is Olympic Kalgooksoo. As usual, it's a pretty small ghetto-looking Korean restaurant but I happen to find those to be the best. The dumplings there are also uber excellent along with the kimchi kalgooksoo, although now I've become addicted to the chicken one.


Recently my mom and I tried one of their other dishes, Kong-na-mul-bap, a spicy plate of bean sprouts, rice, and chili paste, topped with thinly sliced egg and nori. We've lived 5 minutes from Olympic Kalgooksoo for about 8 years and haven't tried this dish until currently! I'm only yelling because it's so damn good. Can't believe I've been missing out on it. I didn't even know it was on the menu. Sooo good.

I don't know how hard it is to make kalgooksoo at home but I've NEVER had a homemade version (unless my feeble memory escapes me). Korean supermarkets offer a variety of different brands with a package of fresh noodles and (usually too salty) seasoning packet to which you add fresh ingredients such as squash and scallion. But it's nothing compared to the freshly made bowls of noodles at Olympic Kalgooksoo.

Olympic & Crenshaw
*south-east corner next to century sports center


Prosciutto Hock Into Sandwich


I got a chunk of prosciutto hock from Whole Foods to make prosciutto crisps but still had a bit leftover. I did my best to slice the small round chunk using my super sharp still very new Henckel knife. The slices, or rather shavings, were good but not the the delicate, pink, beautifully transparent pieces you can get at your deli.


It crowned a Trader Joe's onion roll along with oven-roasted tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, sliced onion, and dijon mustard. Gave it a good warming up in the toaster oven to make a "freshly made" sandwich taste the next day at work. The edges of the roll got nicely brown and crisp while the prosciutto was heated up slightly. Although assembling the sandwich after just toasting the bread would have been optimal, it was just a work lunch. I'm not complaining.

However, I drank a TON of water after that sandwich (I usually drink 1 cup a day) because of the copious amount of salt in the pile of not-perfectly-transparent prosciutto "shavings". Is there such a thing as a mini meat/deli slicer that won't cost an arm and a leg? That would be perfect for turning that prosciutto hock into perhaps a few less salty sandwiches instead of one delicious salty one.


Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


I finally got around to making pasta carbonara. It had a nice spice to it from the red pepper flakes I added, balancing the rich nutty sauce of egg, cream and parmesan. I ground a good amount of black pepper over the pasta. The smoky bacon, egg sauce, and spaghetti made for a delicious dinner, accompanied by a simple salad made with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of good olive oil, pepper and salt.


Bread Pudding with Whipped Cream & Strawberries


I had some brioche crusts lying around my fridge leftover from another dish that I had made. I was determined to use it up in some way or another. Bread pudding would be a perfect metamorphosis. I mixed together an egg, milk, cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, and Grand Marnier, poured this over the crusts, sprinkled a pinch of brown sugar on top, and baked it off. I made a plate for my sweets-crazy mom crowning the thrifty little bread pudding with freshly whipped cream and sweet ripe strawberries.


A Spring Anniversary Dinner


It was recently my parent's 30th anniversary and to celebrate I put together a little dinner...


We started off with a glass of Moet & Chandon White Star and Scallop Carpaccio with a squeeze of meyer lemon, a sprinkle of poppy seeds and thinly sliced scallion, and a drizzle of really good California olive oil. I spotted this beautiful dish in the the passionate cook's post of Scallop Carpaccio à la Robuchon. I substitued meyer lemon for lime and scallion for the spring onion, which was nowhere to be seen. The drizzle of olive oil could have been lighter but it was a great dish. Simple and beautiful.


Next we had Green Garlic Risotto with Chanterelle & Balsamic.


I used vialone nano rice, the highest grade of rice for risotto, I was told by the Surfas employee. I had read about this rice some time ago and was excited to see it displayed at my second home. I used dried chanterelle mushrooms and let them reconstitute within the risotto. And right before serving topped it with with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar for a touch of richness. I thought the risotto could have had more green garlic. Not garlicky enough for me.


For the main we had Veal Scaloppine with Currant Pinenut Relish and Flageolet Gratin. The relish and the gratin are both recipes from Chef Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I paired up the currant pinenut relish with veal, thwarted by Whole Foods which now was carrying only super skinny trimmed pork tenderloins. Not the plumper kind my original plans called for so I could served medallions of roasted pork tenderloin topped with the relish. But the veal was a great substitute.

crazy good browned up pieces of breadcrumbs on top

The Flageolet Gratin was so good! A layer of carmelized onion at the bottom of the dish, then topped by par-cooked flageolet beans, and then topped with fresh breadcrumbs and thyme. I messed up a little bit because the top layer of beans came out kind of hard but altogether the flavors really came together to make the meal a very comforting one.


It's a good thing I didn't make dessert at home because I was running late and my mind a bit hectic from not whipping myself into action according to my schedule. Instead I turned to one of Koreatown's newest bakeries, Wien, for a Pistachio Cream Mocha Cake. This cake was such a visual treat as well as a gustatory one. I served it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

So there you go, a Spring Anniversary Dinner!